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Through Her Lens: The Photographs of Barbara Van Cleve
On view through June 25, 2023
Yellowstone Art Museum
Billings, Montana

Barbara Van Cleve’s aesthetic and documentary black and white images of ranch life offer a sharp contrast to fictional, romantic portrayals of the West. Subjects of transfixing night scenes, the Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive, the Spanish Mission Trail in Baja, California, and Mexico, and tough, working ranch women have captured her attention over the past forty years.

A selection of fifty photographs from Barbara Van Cleve’s collection is currently on view in the Montana Gallery. As a champion of women in ranching, Van Cleve balances the existing mythic cowboy with feminist realism. Throughout the exhibit, women show prominently among images of horseback riders nearly lost in the dusty atmosphere of moving cattle, the timed release of a well-slung rope, quiet conversations among ranch hands, and an imposing and sacred mountain range generating strong and shifting weather patterns — significant moments in ranch life.

[Image: Barbara Van Cleve, Friends at Night ©2011, Ed.#13. Archival Pigment Print]